December 05, 2007

Some IM & Meebo Links

Dutch students protest via IM and text:

Dutch high school students have been “on strike” this week, protesting against extra school hours. Students spread word to join protests on Friday and Monday using online and mobile phone text messages.

Meebo embedded in the library catalog:

We added a Meebo widget to unsuccessful keyword searches in our library catalog. This way, when a customer searches our catalog and doesn’t find anything, they can contact us via IM and ask for help (we also display our phone number if they want to call).

Hooray! This is exactly what we were talking about in the infamous Xanadu post at TechSource and in the article Rachel and I wrote for CIL, which, sadly, has disappeared from the Web. :-(

November 24, 2007

"Reference just got a whole lot cooler..."

November 15, 2007

my Text Message reference flyer

October 25, 2007

SMS to IM Reference

I stumbled upon this page from the American University Library showing their IM reference options, including a MeeboMe widget and a SMS to IM service (I'm sure that I saw it on somebody's blog, or on some listserv -- sorry, I don't remember where). They have created an SMS to IM service where
users can text a message to a particular number and include the word "askaulibrary" in their message.

Nifty! Is anyone else doing this?

Glad for this link. And isn't it amazing how IM and SMS Reference keeps popping up, making inroads into our service models?

October 06, 2007

LIS768: IM Assignment

Dear IM Librarians of the world. If you hear from one of my students in the next few days and you have time, please chat with them! I will really appreciate it!

Topic: IM

"There is much greater opportunity to bring service to wherever potential users of library service happen to be." Michael Buckland

Readings Due:

Buckland, Chapter 9: The Challenge

Schmidt, A. IM Talking Points

Schmidt, A. & Stephens, M. IM me. Library Journal, Retrieved April 1, 2005 from

Stephens, Embedding a librarian in Your Web Site with Meebo


From the readings and your own reflection, create a short list of interview questions for an IM-ing Librarian. What do you want to know about such a service? For sure, ask about evaluation of the IM service and how the library integrated it into workflow. Create an IM screename or Meebo account to conduct your brief interview.

Then explore

Choose a library and IM the librarian -- be courteous. If they can chat about your questions at that time - great! if not ask for a time you might IM with them that's more convenient.

Post your questions, a brief summary of your interview, and your thoughts on IM in libraries to your blog by October 17. This will count for your weekly posting for the week of October 10. Please email me with any questions.

September 25, 2007

The Dom Librarian is Online

Dom Library Meebo

The Rebecca Crown library launches an embedded librarian Meebo widget! Hot!

July 27, 2007

Dutch Public Libraries Offer Chat Reference

Rob Coers writes:

I am happy to announce to you that the Dutch public libraries now also offer a chat reference service to the audiences. Not via IM, but via an application by a small Dutch company, called Chatfone. Behind the scenes there is a team of about 30 librarians who also work as al@din searchers, the nation-wide QnA service, running on OCLC's QuestionPoint.

In the last months of 2006, 22 public libraries tested several ways of chat reference. We tried:

1. Meebo
2. the big IM's - MSN, GTalk, Yahoo, monitored with Meebo
3. QuestionPoint Chat
4. Chatfone

Chatfone has been appreciated most by the librarians. It also offers ways to keep statistics and other services like e-mail transcript and user surveys. The report of this project (in Dutch) can be downloaded from :

Unfortunately we dont have enough staff to be available 24/7 , but during the week people can ask questions monday-friday from 09-17 hrs and tuesday and friday also from 18-20.
Besides these hours, occasionaly logged in librarians can be caught in the wild, on weird hours ;-)

When no librarian is available for the servie, the button redirects to the traditional al@din service. Otherwise you see a "Chat met al@din" button.

Well done Dutch Librarians! Thanks for writing Rob.

June 07, 2007

Meebo in the Library

Meebo in the Library
Originally uploaded by crr29061
Dr. Curtis Rogers writes: Check it out! I think Lander may be the first academic library in SC to be using Meebo for IM Reference! WTG!

February 13, 2007

IM Office Hours - No Class Tonight

Physical, real time class is cancelled because it is NASTY here in Chicago but the class can still meet with me via IM and work on the Collection Development module online at Blackboard.

To everyone in the path of the winter storm..stay safe and warm!

January 06, 2007

IM vs Email

Via SmartMobs, at

The New Scientist Technology Blog: Is IM better for Brainstorming?

The researchers recruited forty two-person teams of graduate business students, and split them into IM and email groups. Each team then had to tackle a business problem facing an auto-repair firm, using only their allocated communication method.

For some reason the paper doesn't say how long the tests latest. But, on average, the IM teams produced one more idea than those using email. The researchers suggests this may be due to the speed of IM compared to email. Perhaps it also shows that, when it comes to generating ideas, it's better not to spend to long thinking over your reply, as can happen with email.

January 04, 2007

Best Web 2.0 Software of 2006

Dion Hinchcliffe posts an overview of the best of Web 2.0 for 2006:

Amongst the choices are some of my favorites as well: Netbvibes and YouTube.

December 12, 2006

New IM Report

Via Stephen Abram:

This post includes facts from a new report from AOL on IM use (§ion_id=15) and then Stephen weighs in:

More grist for the library mill. I recall seeing a 1956/57 article in the Wilson Library Bulletin advising libraries not to adopt telephone reference. From my travels this year, we seem to be split on piloting IM reference and resisting it. This seems to be a watershed issue in libraries and our relationship with our users.

Several folks have informed me that their library IM trial yielded poor results. I asked how they marketed and promoted the service. As a rule, they hadn't done very much promotion at all. Some feared getting too many questions (an odd irony). I know of one library that got amazing results just by getting every staff member to give the special group IM address on a bookmark to every teen who arrived in the library. The word of mouth marketing this generated worked very well. Now that the average IM user is 32, this kind of promotion could be done very effectively by circulation and information commons desks.

December 04, 2006

Brenda Hearts Meebo

I do still see some libraries prohibiting the use of instant messaging (IM). One of the reasons libraries have prohibited it is because of the need to install the Instant Messaging client on each public access computer. That, however, is no longer required. There are web-based tools that allow you to use IM without having to install software. My personal favorite is Meebo. It allows users to access their AIM, Yahoo!, MSN, Google Talk, ICQ or Jabber accounts, without needing to install any software. And it’s free!

When you access Meebo, you will frequently see interesting notes from the developers. Today, for example, Elaine from Meebo posted about some statistics they have gathered about text customization. 75% of users just use the default black font when are chatting. If people do change the color of the text, what do you think is the most popular choice? Hot pink!


December 03, 2006

What story is this library telling?

One of my students calls one of the large, urban local libraries doing research for group projects. He encounters this intriguing story:

Librarian: Hello? ________ Public Library, may I help you?
LIS753 Student: Hello, I'm working on a project for my library school class and I have a question.
Librarian: Of course.
LIS753 Student: Does the library have plans to start an IM reference service?
Librarian: Oh God, No!

Wow, not even a "We have heard of libraries doing that but we haven't looked into yet.." or anything! Shame on you, large, urban Illinois-located Public Library system!

November 07, 2006

I heart IM Reference

reference librarians rule
Originally uploaded by librarianne.

November 05, 2006

Don't Get Up....

fall preview day
Originally uploaded by K Jane.
IM Reference at the University of Guelph Library! Great example of promo materials.

September 27, 2006

On Using IM Reference

Nicole writes:

I just finished my first conversation with a reference staff member at Drexel via IM! I needed to find a required journal and was thrown off by the interface they provided me with. I went right to my comfort zone - InfoTrac because that’s what we have at work and I know how to use it - but turns out that even though it said my journal was in there - it wasn’t! So I opened up IM and asked the librarian. Now that I think back I guess a complaint would be that he/she didn’t provide a name so I can’t tell you who helped me - for now we’re going to assume it was a “she” - based on statistics.

Anyway, she walked me through each step in the process and when I hit a bump she came up with a way to help me. She also introduced me to ProQuest which is way prettier than InfoTrac! I found both of my journal articles and am ready to sit down and do some reading.

IM Reference is totally handy!! I love it!

Use this post as evidence for the discussions at your library about IM reference. :-)

August 23, 2006

TICER: IM Resources for Hands On Session

Greetings TICER Participants!

For class today we'll use various recources, including:

Download and share a PDF File:Search your favorite database, Web site, or just download the Pew American IM Report

Download and share a Flickr picture: Flickr ((Use this picture if you'd like!)

Search your library's catalog or use this one: KB-catalogue of books and journals

August 14, 2006

It won't be long before IM is the "phone" and Email is a delivery tool

why in the world doesn't every library with an internet connection offer IM Reference? This includes my own library where I have introduced the concept to my staff on a couple occasions, but where we have still not taken steps to get it going. My sense is that some of them just are not ready to make this leap. Maybe it's my fault for not pushing my people harder, hoping instead that one day someone will come to me with the same idea I had two years ago. However, if that doesn't happen soon, I can't see how we can continue to afford not doing it.

It won't be long before IM is the "phone" and Email is a delivery tool (and it probably is already that way for a lot of our own patrons). Whether we like it or not we don't get to choose how we communicate with our clientele- it's their choice. Or maybe it would be better say that we do get to choose, but that they may not use the tools we hope they will. So, it's up to us- do we want to be relevant or not?

August 08, 2006

My Life Online (Sony IM device)

So...are folks at Sony really getting the "This is where we live" Web 2.0 vibe or what?,71559-0.html

Hoping to tap into the growth of wireless networks across college campuses, other public spaces and within homes, Sony is introducing a new pocket-sized gadget for instant messaging and other internet-based communications.

The Sony mylo, slated for availability in September at a retail price of about $350, is a first-of-its-kind product that uses Wi-Fi networks, analysts say. It is not a cellular phone and thus doesn't carry monthly service fees. And though it could handle web-based e-mail services, it doesn't support corporate e-mail programs.

Instead, the slim, oblong-shaped gizmo that has a 2.4-inch display and slides open to expose a thumb keyboard is specifically geared toward young, mainstream consumers for messaging and internet-based calls. As long as a Wi-Fi network is accessible, a mylo user could chat away or browse the web.

The mylo — which stands for "my life online," — will be marketed toward 18- to 24-year olds, the multitasking generation that relies heavily on instant messaging and is already viewing e-mail as passe, Sony said.

So, are we ready to IM with folks using these devices? Can the librarian have presence there?

July 31, 2006

Library 2.0 Theory: Web 2.0 and Its Implications for Libraries
Jack M. Maness
MLS, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries

Many might consider IM a Web 1.0 technology, as its inception predates the technology market crash and it often requires the downloading of software, whereas most 2.0 applications are wholly web-based. It is here considered 2.0 as it is consistent with the tenets of Library 2.0: it allows a user presence within the library web-presence; it allows collaboration between patrons and librarians; and it allows a more dynamic experience than the fundamentally static, created-then-consume nature of 1.0 services. It is also considered 2.0 as it is becoming a more web-based application, and the software used by chat reference services is usually much more robust that the simplistic IM applications that are so popular (they often allow co-browsing, file-sharing, screen-capturing, and data sharing and mining of previous transcripts).

July 26, 2006

Does IM Bite? Student Outreach Interns


Blogs are nice, but sometimes prospective students crave a bit more real-time interaction. When high school students want to ask a quick question about admission, student life or academic programs, chances are they prefer to get an answer right away. They won’t call your admission office (hey, you’ve never been introduced - and they love to spend time on the phone, but only with their friends). They might not email you (email is so yesterday and formal).

That’s why you should offer them to IM (instant message) you.

I know, I know, it might be a challenge to use IM for the following reasons:

IM? What’s this? Does it bite? ...

At Beloit, the admission office has found the solution, Student Outreach Interns (SOI):

“We think one of the best ways to get the inside scoop on college life is to talk to the students themselves. Join the Beloit Buddy List and IM your way through the college search. Or, if you prefer, a Beloit student will phone or email you to answer your burning questions about campus life, academics, and how to balance it all — or even what to pack.”

July 24, 2006

TTW Mailbox: IM Reference in Smaller Libraries

A question to Rachel and I about my FASTER IM piece in CIL:

Hello Rachel and Michael,

Thanks a lot for the fine IM FASTER article. If you have a second, I'd like to ask one question. You state, "Your work flow won't suffer at all if you incorporate an IM application on one of your reference area computers; IM simply becomes part of the reference staff duties... The AskSJCPL service is staffed by the same librarians who work the telephone and public reference desk." You refer to computers and librarians, plural. The majority of the time our reference desk is staffed by a single librarian and we frequently would not have any of the backups in place that you describe. I have to confess that it does sound overwhelming. Do you ever have only one librarian on duty? Do you think that IM reference would be feasible at your library were that the case?

Thanks so much,

David McCusker
Public Services Librarian
American River College

Hi David - Great question, and one I have had before! Adding IM presence to your one person reference desk really should not disrupt the flow of the librarian's work at all. I have yet to hear of any library that was overwhelmed with IM questions (other than the story out of Homer Glen, IL when a bunch of students all tried out the service at once one afternoon after school). Make it part of your information policy: in person questions first, then phone, then IM, then e-mail (if you do it), then snail mail. If it's part of information services, there's nothing wrong with looking up from the screen and saying to the patron" "I am just finishing up with an IM reference question and I'll be right with you..." (or some such..)

IM folk probably wouldn't mind being asked to hang out as well if you had to help someone real quick as well.

Also know this is just one small step toward a new landscape of the way folks may ask questions of their librarians: IM, SMS, etc. Be ready for the time that questions come in to the library from any number of devices and all aggregate into one place -- your reference desk computer -- because from what I can tell, it's coming!

July 21, 2006

Cool way to promote their IM service

Darren Chase posts an ingenious idea: using the desktop to promote IM! Thanks Darren!

July 18, 2006

BYOMS link for Roadshow

Asking Wikipedia about The Poseidon Adventure via BYOMS

July 10, 2006


Via TechCrunch:


June 19, 2006

Yahoo Opens Messenger to Developers

Just some linkage for the IM category of TTW!

June 16, 2006

OPAL Presentations & Extra Links!

A few folks listened to the talks in Second Life!

These are the added links from discussion that came up during the four presentations I gave on Thursday and Friday for OPAL. We had great groups both days. I really appreciate the folks at OPAL setting it up! It was also available in Second Life!

Here are the presentations:

Here are the extra links from discussion:


Amanda Etches Johnson's Wiki of Library Weblogs: Great resource and clearinghouse of all types of Biblioblogs!

Jenkins Law Library Blogs:

Massachusetts Law Libraries Blog

Recent Research on Virtual Communities:

Top Ten Weblog Design Mistakes:

TTW Handout: Evaluating LIS Weblogs

WP OPAC: Casey Bisson's OPAC as Blog!


IM Resources:

LiB: IM Your Library Catalog...sort of

LiB's PPT on IM & More:

Social Software:

David King on the Experience Economy:

David King's Questions:


Legal Guide to Podcasting:

Ten Reasons to Use Flickr at your Library:

Ten More Reasons to Use Flickr at your Library:

Creating Staff Buy In:

Flickr Version!

Fresh Look at Public Libraries

May 31, 2006

"Problem Solved, Customer Happy"

IM to other store
Originally uploaded by jessamyn.
File this under "Why Libraries should have IM activated at each department/branch!"

April 20, 2006

An IM Refererence Report

I received a nice e-mail from a librarian at met at CIL. Liesbeth Mantel from Erasmus University Library, Rotterdam, The Netherlands asked if we might discuss IM a bit. She blogs at I’ve heard from other colleagues in Europe that a lot of librarians are starting to talk about IM reference, which makes me happy. I asked Liesbeth if I could post this at TTW as well and she said yes.

Liesbeth sent a set of questions I'll do my best to answer. IM Librarians: please comment or e-mail if you have more to add! I'd also point you to Sherri Vokey's How Do You Track IM Reference Stats post for more on looking at IM statistically.

1. What do you think is the added value of chat (compared to telephone, email)? And in which situations would you prefer chat, or email?

I think the number one benefit of IM reference is the fact that via IM we put ourselves out in the fray where are users are working and playing online. Of course, we could also cite statistics and studies that tell us that for teens IM is the number one way the communicate or that business use of IM is skyrocketing. That’s good evidence to present when making the decision to offer the service.

It also puts the librarian as close as possible to the point of need of an information seeker – especially if the IM name is featured throughout your Web site and the online catalog, as well as on other Web sites in your community. It also needs to be publicized and promoted just like any library service or program. Sometimes I think we forget to promote our technology-related or Web-related initiatives because promotion seems to be inherant in the Web. Personally, I'd like to see a library put up a billboard or bus poster that says: "Have a Question? IM your Librarian" or some such!

Sometimes, I like to IM more than anything, even the phone. Maybe other folks feel the same way while others don't like the medium at all. One thing for library users that’s a real benefit is through IM you can ask just about any question and remain rather anonymous. That takes away any feelings of embarrassment that a library user might feel asking about sensitive subjects.

It’s also rather easy to have intense conversations between co-workers. For “IM Me,” we talked to all kinds of librarians and asked how they used IM:

Karen Wenk, science digital initiatives librarian, Rutgers University, agrees that interoffice communication can be improved with IM. "We are able to talk about things that we would hesitate to say in an email," she notes. "Office politics and more 'feeling' type of things are best said without the thought of an everlasting email trail."

Is it possible to find out what the percentage –measured against the TOTAL service needs- is of how often chat is used in a beneficial way. Do you know the percentage of use of phone-email-chat? Maybe from the last month.

Because I am no longer at SJCPL, I IMed the Reference Desk and asked to take a look at some statistics. Sarah Hill, the Head of Reference, passed on some stats and I threw together a year’s overview of the state of IM at SJCPL’s Reference Desk. I don’t have the numbers for the other service points, but the AskSJCPL screename is the main entry point.

Here’s a breakdown of a year worth of IM reference at a medium-sized public library:
A Year's Worth of IM Reference

The steady increase in questions is a good thing. I hope it continues. It's good to point out that this service is only promoted via the Web site and bookmarks that are distrubuted at service points. A promotional push, maybe highlighting IM but includeing all the methods of getting information from the library might improve these numbers. I wonder where they will be a year from now.

For now, these are very small numbers in the overall picture of reference transactions.

Here's a breakdown of the percentage of IM of SJCPL's total reference questions.
IM Reference %

And here is a chart Luke Rosenberger put together for me showing the percentage of IM reference in perspective with the total reference transactions for a year:
% of Total reference Transactions that are IM

What do you think? Seems like a very small percentage of overall transactions but the upswing is promising and the ROI (No cost except staff time and a bit of training) is healthy. IM will never overtake phone reference in libraries but the next incarnations of messaging and more and more users turning on to IM on their devices may push these numbers even higher.

I'd like to see some more statistical breakdowns for other libraries that IM BUT I'd also like to see the qualitative side as well: what stories are playing out between librarians and users via IM?

2. Does your library accept all questions, remarks etc. made through chat, or does the library refer to other channels, like email when the question is complex or if it’s a complaint?

I believe they take any and all questions but do have guidelines for forwarding questions or transferring to other mechanisms. It is not out of the question to ask an IMing patron to swing by the library at their convenience to pick up held materials or to do further research if that’s the best answer!

I asked Sarah Hill to answer this one as well:

When a question is too complex to answer over chat- say people want law questions answered, or they really need to be looking over a text to fully understand the information- we ask then to come in to the library and to look over the information themselves (if possible). It seems to me that patrons have been self monitoring question complexity- we do get some head scratchers via e-mail, rarely do we get IM questions which are more than ready reference. To this date, we have not gotten any complaints via IM.

3. What does chat mean for your business administration/type of management? For example: email. Employees can answer an email within half an hour and answer the phone in the mean time. How does your library organize this when chat is involved?

IM is integrated into the flow of reference services at the Main library reference desk. Two or three librarians staff the desk and answer questions in person, via the phone and via IM. E-mail reference is done in the workroom on a dedicated computer. I actually helped rewrite part of our policy manual during my final months at SJCPL and IM is included as a form of reference. It is third in the breakdown of how the librarians take questions: in person first, followed by phone, then IM.

4. Does your library hold higher standards for librarians who handle chat sessions? I mean, email allows the writer to think about the formulation, and to consult with other. In a chat session you need to react immediately.

All of the folks who work the Reference Desk have been trained to handle IM questions. It’s part of the flow of work during a shift. The same goes for all the other internal IM reference points: if you work the desk, you’ve had IM training. One of these days, it may even be spelled out like the 2.0 job descriptions we’ve noted around the Web.

5. Does your library use a closed system (with authorization) or an open channel (like MSN), and do you know what are the arguments for using one or the other are? Packets that ask for authorization usually contain modules that have management information. How does your library gather that information, if you use an open system? Open systems are susceptible for misuse by either customers or employees. Have you had problems with misuse, and how did you respond to that?

We use an open system. Three screen names for the three big services handled via the open source IM client for Macs called Fire. Every morning at 9am I see the screename for AskSJCPL and AskSJCPL AV come on for the day!

The biggest argument for me to advcoate for libraries to use open systems is the minute we offer up a closed system, we are adding another barrier to getting folks to what they want. It reminds me of the big old barriers that some virtual reference systems created: white screens, dropped patrons, confusing interfaces. IM, to sing that old familiar song, is what folks are using. Let's meet them on their turf. SJCPL does not ask for a library card or anything. If they get an IM question, they answer it!

I haven’t heard of much misuse at all. Maybe there have been a few folks that start IMing the librarian inappropriately, but it’s easy to ignore them. Library staff use IM to communicate internally as well as with colleagues outside of the library system – or at least some do. The benefits of ease of use, just in time access and establishing presence really outweigh a few instances of a message popping up like “Are you a pretty lady librarian?”

6. What do the customers, employees and the management of the library think about chat?

Great question! I know some staff swear by the use of IM now. I haven’t heard much about customer reaction but that arena would be ripe for a survey or some research. Take a look at the IM survey post for more from library staff.

April 06, 2006


Via the Social Software Blog:

I.M. Generation Is Changing the Way Business Talks

Banks, insurance companies and other old-school businesses are using instant messaging to communicate with customers and quickly route queries, all within seconds. In the not-so-distant past, e-mail was considered state of the art, and responding within 24 hours was considered prompt. Those days seem quaint now; instant messaging is used in more than 80 percent of corporations, according to a report by Michael Osterman, an industry analyst.

This article details the many - and I mean MANY - benefits of IM in the business world. One point is IM is going more and more mainstream. Yet another reason to offer IM in your libraries.

March 27, 2006

Librarian: How Do You IM? A TTW Survey

I think IM in my public library is an example of the generation gap between staff members. We do not allow patrons to IM on library computers, and staff are not supposed to IM, either. However, many of the young professionals do have one or more IM programs downloaded onto their computers (inclduing the IT department), and we use IM at work. The staff that uses IM are more likely to want the IM and games ban dropped on public computers and want to start reference IM, a library blog, etc. So I see a direct correlation between librarians/library staff who IM and those who are forward thinking about library programs and technology. Survey Respondent

This is a companion report to a brief presentation I'm gave at Computers in Libraries on Wedenesday. It was a quickly created and mounted survey. Someday I hope to do a much more official one. Here's what I found:

Are Staff Allowed to IM?

Here we see most of the respondents can use IM at their workstations.

Next, does your library do IM outreach or are there plans to do so:

Does your library offer IM Reference?

Plans to Launch IM?

My conclusion: Our Work is Not Yet Done

Many libraries might find that IM would work very well as an add on or as a replacement for virtual referebce, depending on their users.

The focus for my few minutes was on IM building community. Aaron Schmidt and Amanda Etches-Johnson came after me to share real world examples and insight.

Here's what Howard Rheingold said about virtual community: “Social aggregators that emerge from the Net when enough people carry on those public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace." (Rheingold, 1993)

Survey Respondents said:

IM communication builds community between colleagues - 89% agree or somewhat agree

I feel like I'm part of the community of IMing librarians - 53% disagreed or somewhat disagreed

I have IM contacts in libraries throughout my country on my Buddy List - 66% disagree

I have IM contacts in libraries all over the world on my Buddy List - 84% disagree

The last two prompted me to say "I live in a bubble" because I IM with folks all over the world. I think folks like me are the exception.

Qualitative Data:

What are the benefits of IM:

It's made it easier to communicate and to arrange meetings, carpools, etc.

I can discuss projects in real time with colleagues that are thousands of miles away or right down the road. It makes collaborating easier and opens up many doors.

IM has begun to build bridges across the traditional staff/faculty divide.

There is greater connection between us than before.

This comment was telling. Could it be about your library sytem? Do you have discouraged librarians in your system? Be careful or you may lose them! Here's the comment:

Many librarians in my library system would like to use IM both for reference and for staff purposes. However, this library system is very reluctant to change and slow to respond to most new ideas. I feel very discouraged when I meet with professionals in other library systems that get to try new things.

I also got some feedback about barriers in some libraries that prevent the librarians from using IM. One type of barrier was the perceived intrusiveness of IM:

I don't use it. email works just fine for me, without the intrusiveness of IM.

E-mail is much better, or the phone.

Another was time:

We are a small staff and don't have time to be confined to the computer

Or IT barriers:

Our City IT has forbidden its use for security reasons, so we rely on email, phone, and face-to-face conversations to communicate and maintain relationships.

The most interesting to me was the perceived "digital divide" in many libraries.

Creates a digital divide, lots of LastGen librarians at MPOW who don't use it and are out of the loop.

I think IM in my public library is an example of the generation gap between staff members. We do not allow patrons to IM on library computers, and staff are not supposed to IM, either.

So, again, our work is not yet done. Did you know that there are only 65 libraries doing IM reference listed on the LibSuccess wiki? Maybe in another year we'll see a lot more -- maybe even more school libraries!

Here are my suggestions for moving forward if you are interested in IM in Libraries:

More education
More case studies/ Let's tell some stories of successful IM interaction
A guide to librarian’s IM names on a wiki (I think Meredith had the page done before I sat down)
More discussion with key players (IT, etc)
Examination of security issues

Librarians who IM

Add your name to the growing list! Click here!

March 26, 2006

Tech Tips for Every Librarian: FASTER IM

Tech Tips

IM Resources: In the April 2006 issue of Computers in Libraries, my "Tech Tips" piece is all about FASTER IM! Here are the links mentioned in the article. Happy IMing!


AskSJCPL Page:

Edifice Ref’s Trillian Training:


Fire Training:



IM Training at Tame the Web:

Library Success Wiki - Virtual Reference and IM:

MSN Messenger:

OCLC Perceptions:

Pew Report on Instant Messaging:

Sherri Vokey’s IM at UNLV Post:

Sherri Vokey’s Training Modules:


YAHOO! Messenger:

TTW on IM:

March 09, 2006

AOL Opens AIM to Developers

AOL gets it that opening up their IM platform may prove very succesful as social networks grow. Will we see AIM built in to new Web 2.0 sites, services, etc?

"It's a dramatic turnaround for AOL," said Joe Wilcox, an analyst at Jupiter Research, who called the move shrewd and well timed.

AOL is "opening up to other companies, some of whom can create products to compete with AIM," he added.

Communicating by typing messages, making phone calls or video-calls and the ability to see if recipients are online at the same time are seen as integral to successful future versions of Internet services, analysts said.

February 24, 2006

TTW Mailbox: Filtered IM!

A TTW reader/librarian who wishes to remain anonymous sends this image:


And a brief note: "It depresses me how little we think of our users sometimes."

February 20, 2006

Librarians & IM: A TTW Survey

Please take just a few moments to complete this little survey about librarians and IM. I'm doing some background work for a brief talk at Computers in Libraries 2006 as well as collecting some data for my upcoming Library Technology Report "Web 2.0 & Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software." I'm interested to see how many librarians are using IM at their desks to commiunicate with colleagues and as a reference point.

Click here to take survey

Thanks! :-)

January 31, 2006

TTW Mailbox: Those Teenies!

I got a note from a TTW reader from Europe, who's excited about upcoming plans for IM in their libraries!

Don't be surprised if the city's libraries offer IM communication with the users from all 20+ libraries. The head of the libraries just said "Go do it!" Now, what remains is to convince our colleagues that it is a good idea. Do you have the same problem with convincing your collegues about that?

We sure have: "That's stupid and just for young teenies who want to chat nonsense to each other", "We don't have time for that, emails and telephones are sufficient", "IM? - can't we have a little privacy here"
Do you recognize those phrases?

I do, reader, I do!

What I might suggest is offering those librarians an evidence-based session on user-centered services, highlighted by OCLC Perceptions, some IM in Libraries articles, and a tour of what some librarians have done with IM!

Get them in a training room and let them IM with each other. Sometimes just playing gets folks on board!

November 23, 2005

On the Radar: AIM Triton

Good review at the Social Software blog:

To say that AOL’s new AIM program is an instant messenger is to diminish it unacceptably. AIM Triton, as the program is now called, is an online communicator that bundles IM, email, voice chat, video chat, browsing, bookmarking, and RSS aggregation into a two-window interface. This whopping upgrade to previous AIM configurations adds welcome features, but also—disappointingly for a program now out of beta—still houses a couple of bugs…

November 15, 2005

LiB notes SMS Reference

This is huge and should not be ignored. Read Sarah's excellent overview of South Eastern Louisiana University's SMS Reference project.

Two Ultra-HOT bits of many:

He also noted that an ongoing issue is trying to limit your response to 160 characters. You can send the response in multiple messages, but librarians tend to try their hardest to fit it into one. The system auto-abbreviates some words (for-4, too-2).

What an excellent point and a big vote for librarians to really "get" the vernacular of chat. We can't ignore it much longer if we are to be relevant to future SMS users in all of our libraries. Have a cell phone that can SMS? Find an SMS buddy at your library and practice!

This also speaks to one of our themes from CPL: The more we attempt to be perfect in everything we do (how many librarians do you know that wordsmith a simple proposal until everyone has lost sight of the prooject and/or timeline for the sake of grammar, spelling and the like), the more we fall behind. Do you think anyone sending a question via SMS would care there was a typo or abbreviated text?

R U crazy?

The system keeps track of the time and number of transactions, but not the actual transcripts of messages. [I think this is a good thingI dont want any records, and if the system automatically doesnt keep them, all the better].
Students are asking a wide range of questions, but mostly short simple factual questions. He noted that they never get short simple questions through e-mail, phone, or web-based chat. As such, he believes theyre tapping whole new user needs with this service.


Oh LiB, thank you for this insight and your incredible blog!

November 11, 2005

University of Michigan Library pilots IM service

Via Sherri

I am tickled that they are piloting and being so up front:

"During Fall semester 2005, Ask Us Now! will pilot a new enhanced real-time reference component using AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). If you do not have the AOL Instant Messenger installed on your computer, we recommend that you use the "classic" Ask Us Now! service.

Help us evaluate instant messaging with AOL's IM software! The University Library is conducting a pilot of IM for answering your library- and research-related questions."

I hope the students, staff and faculty use the service and the library reports out on their pilot. If you are pondering such a pilot -- and you should be! -- look at their informative pages for guidelines and inspiration.

I wonder how their "Ask Us Now" service will fare if IM takes off?

September 29, 2005

Plugged in and iPod'ed Up

From Beatrice at edifice ref comes this gem of a post, looking at the start of a new semester at Providence College Phillips Memorial Library :

"Just coming up for a bit of air after 3 solid weeks of back-to-school activities. This is my first full fall semester and it has been a doozy. I havent done a tally, but I have to believe the early indicators that our new IM service is a big hit. We launched on the first day of classes, sent campus-wide emails the following week, and were now receiving several IMs a day. Lot of reserves queries, messages for full-text assistance, longish reference questions and research appointment requests. I have also personally witnessed my share of hi library pulse checking IMs.

The new kids are sooooooo plugged in. They come to the library in search of usb ports to download the papers stored on their Ipods. They are sprawled all over the library with their own laptops, wander through the reference collection, and more importantly, ask lots of questions about our services.

The staff here also seems to be keen on IM, which is great. I wont say were fighting over them, but everyone is eager to answer them. We are also dealing with privacy issues (storage, chat cleansing, etc.) and different levels of comfort using IM. I created two FAQsone for patrons and one for us. Its a process, and all of the anecdotal feedback I am receiving will be very useful for my November talk to public librarians about launching an IM service."

Hey Beatrice..can we see those FAQ's?

For everyone: This speaks to me. What more proof do we need that our young users are plugged in, turned on to the wired ways of collaboration and communication and comfortable using IM to ask questions at the library. Are we comfortable? Can we handle this "conversation?"

If you haven't subbed to edifice ref, do so now!

September 19, 2005

Putting a Face on with IM

Christina has a great post about IM, some recent research and setting expectations here:

Good stuff:

And I was thinking that besides the fact that were afraid well scare the customer away we still need to properly negotiate the question if were going to successfully use this service with people we dont know. The point is that were in an unequal power relationship: we have the info the customer needs (customers arent known to appreciate the fact that we need to keep ref stats to justify our existence). Whats preventing the IM reference staff from asking more questions? Is it wanting to be cool? Not enough time (or perception that if theyre not quick enough the customer will run away)? As the customer vanishes into the ether, do we know with IM that weve successfully answered their question? (yes there are studies by Kaske, Hernon, and others on VR but how about IM where stats arent uniformly kept, and questions are answered from the desknot by a dedicated staffer.) Maybe we need to be more careful in setting expectations from IM reference (as some libraries have done)

August 23, 2005

Alexandrian Launches IM Reference

What a nice post that illustrates so much of what we must do to insure an effcetive rollout of such a service:

"I updated our website, updated our blog, and began talking up the service with a few teens, who immediately indicated that it was really cool, and they would totally use it."

A PowerPoint is included as well.

August 10, 2005

An IM Conversation about IM and the fact that our work here is not yet done

Here's the text of a chat I had a couple of days ago. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. This person was IMing from Europe.

Cool Librarian in Europe: Hi want just to tell you I appreciate TTW a lot from here in ______
MS: greetings from the USA!
CLIE: I particularly follow the IM for VR issue, we're very very far from this in here. i am fascinated by it
MS: IM & jybe could be very powerful
CLIE: I try to promote IM when I teach students hox to use e-resources, but it's not easy
MS: wow i would think they would be into IM
CLIE: I work for an academic library, and the students are very attached to paper, and often reluctant to use technology
MS:oh yes i understand that but IM could serve a purpose for sure
CLIE:The problem is that there is no policy for that, it's not considered as a service - and my new director doesn't even know what it is
CLIE:much work to do
MS: give the director some articles (shamelessy offering "IM Me" Schmidt & Stephens 2005)
CLIE: Not to mention blogs, RSS, and the like...
CLIE:and that's the case of many library directors
CLIE: I deal with those who have heard about blogs or rss or wikis think it's a gadget. But no matter, we're a small group of librarians trying to make things move forwards, with our blog but we do it in parallel of our libraries. We try to make a difference
MS: Rock on!

August 05, 2005

IM at Alexandrian (A New Twist on an Old Favorite)

Alexandrian PL IMMarin County PL IMSJCPL IM

Above: Three examples of some HOT PL IM Pages..there are many others... take a look and be inspired!

Hooray for Alexandrian PL -- going live with IM reference on August 15. They've created an IM reference page similar to some other libraries -- and one I believe SJCPL orginated (Thanks Maire!) What rocks my world is the progression here. More information about the service and how the library handles questions.

Just a couple of things to note before you get started...

Any screen names that send IMs containing obscene language or that are harassing will be blocked.
We are unable to answer lengthy research questions via IM - for example, a complicated genealogical research question. We are also unable to provide advice on questions of a medical, tax, or legal nature.
IM Reference is part of our regular reference service, which includes in-person and telephone reference services. Sometimes we might be answering all kinds of questions at the same time, so please be patient.

Well Done APL!

July 13, 2005

Excellent IM Training Materials via Sherri!

June 30, 2005

Video Chat from the Cottage

iChat AV rules! Keeping in touch with Maire at SJCPL is yet another benefit of IM!

June 22, 2005


"So when you're near me, darling can't you hear me - SOS" ABBA

Nice IM tale: Some managers were meeting at my library, including my colleague and friend Julie who uses her laptop for note taking and looking up documents as needed for meetings (hint hint to librarians who have laptops but never move them from their desks!). Julie also had her IM app open. From three floors above came an IM from the person working her desk in Sights and Sounds: "SOS." It seems there was a little equipment crisis for a meeting room. Julie was able to solve it from the meeting. No fuss. No running about.

June 13, 2005

Hollywood IMs

Via Wired and so in sync with "Entourage" on HBO:,1284,67789,00.html

June 11, 2005

Great Survey Stats for IM, VR and Podcasting

Via Sherri, who totally gets it!

Chad F. Boeninger reports on a survey of students! Take a look...there's good data and loads of food for thought. Working with Purdue has me thinking about serving students in the acedemic setting. All the Millennial stuff...all the gamer stuff apllies here as well.

May 23, 2005

Bill Drew on IM

Wow! Via Stephen:

Bill Drew has posted a chapter on IM in Libraries:

May 09, 2005

Library Using Jybe for VR

Brian from Jybe reports:

I wanted to point you the University of Northern Illinois and this link - They are using JYBE for VR at their library via IE - went live this week. Basically, if you want help, you install JYBE and then click the link to join a session - that link will automatically connect them with a librarian.

Wowza.. take a look...

May 06, 2005

More IM Training Materials

This INCREDIBLE handout was created by SJCPL's own Kathryn Slott - who ROCKS! This one is for FIRE, a MAC OS X IM app, but you could adapt it for almost any IM client.

Note the incredible attention to the Reference Interview!

IM Survey Results

Sherri reports on her survey. It's fascinating!


3) Have you ever used the UNLV Libraries Chat Reference Service?

And now for the interesting stuff . . . a mere 11.3% (c=21) of respondents reported that they have used the UNLV Libraries chat reference service in the past. That leaves a whopping 88.7% (c=165) of IMers who responded out in the (virtual) cold.

Talk about ROI! That is not a very good one at all. Some folks, likje me, might even say "CUT THE CORD!" with such low numbers. Is it promotion? Bad software? General disinterest?

Library administrators take note: this is not an effective use of resources!

4) If the service were offered, would you use Instant Messaging to ask a librarian for research help?

Next, the topsey turvy effect: 87.5% (c=161) responded that if offered, they *would* use instant messaging to get help from the library, while 12.5% (c=23) indicated that they would not. Almost exactly the same percentage who indicated that they haven't used the existing chat reference service said they would use IM.

Wowza. This speaks volumes. Meet your students where they are!

Read her post. It's HOT stuff!

I'm going forward with the IM effort, and expect to roll out by the end of the month. Next up: implementation, staff training, and creation of website documentation to alert users of the change in service.

Sherri - What a great post. Keep us informed!

April 30, 2005

Beatrice's IM Reading List

I also read an opinion piece on page 30 of the April issue of American Libraries. In "Eeewww! My Patron Tried to Pick Me Up", Susan Braxton, a science reference librarian at Illinois State's Milner Library, recounts a session of recreational chatting (the what-are-you-wearing variety) initiated by a patron. Braxton also discusses how to prepare for this inevitable type of conversation as you dabble in IM.

April 28, 2005

Jybe Ho

Nice post about Jybe from Stephen, who alerted me that my Trackback is not working. :-(

April 25, 2005

SMS Reference at SLU

I apoligize if this made the rounds back in March -- maybe because I was at CIL I totally missed it! But this is intriguing. I wonder what their numbers are? How the librarians feel about it? And what the student perception of the library might be because of this innovative service?


Take a look at their info page for the service:

April 22, 2005

UK Study: Messages Lower IQ

CNN piece about a study out of the UK that finds folks are too distracted by email, messaging, etc. Bit that resonated the most with me:

"Companies should encourage a more balanced and appropriate way of working."

Heck yeah! I need to ponder the implications here of the IQ stuff, but here's another vote for balance in our library and information lives. Handle only the information you are comfortable with and know when to unplug.

With that, dear readers, I am UNPLUGGING for the weekend.

IM Survey Responses at schwagbag

I am loving this!

A respondent says:

"Kudos to linking to the Instant Messaging deifition in the Wikipedia from the Library's website. It's nice to know that UNLV's librarians are up-to-date on things such as the Wikipedia. The idea of Instant Messaging for help sounds wonderful. If it isn't a nuisance and is setup that a librarian at the help desk runs AIM in the background as she/he helps in-person patrons and then additionally helps online patrons, this could become a successful way to reach and help students."

Read all about it...

April 21, 2005

Are You being Served?

And guess what? Your library sounds the same way if you tell patrons (of any age) that they can't IM from your library because that's not a valid use of your public computers. You're basically telling people that their choice of communication channel isn't allowed and that they should go elsewhere because you won't be serving them today.


April 19, 2005

Quotable Quotes: IM

For a generation raised with the Internet, instantaneous access to both information and the social networks for which that information is relevant is the norm. Earlier generations see instant messenging (or even cell phones) as a distraction, wondering how anyone can get work done with them. For the current generation, the opposite seems to be true: it's hard to imagine getting any work done without those tools.

Meet the Gamers
By Kurt Squire & Constance Steinkuehler -- Library Journal 4/15/2005

Comment About the Reference Interview & IM

Christina writes about the IM Training Module:

Good stuff-- however, I don't see where you reinforce good reference interview behaviors. I've seen staff who are very good at conducting f2f reference completely forget everything when they start VR, and I would expect the same from IM. Even in the transcripts I've seen from libraries doing IM reference I haven't seen probing and follow up questions as much as I would like. You can still be informal and "cool" and make sure you have the right question.
How do you know that you're above the 55%?

Very true! The Reference Interview is incredibly important no matter what medium you do your reference work in. I taught a series of workshops in 2003 called "The Reference Interview in the 21st Century" and the Handout version of the PPT slides are here.

I need to look at this -- it's been a few months. Maybe we need another component for this Module on Reference interviewing. (striking isn't it, how this training has GROWN since this discussion began...)

April 18, 2005

IM Security at Technobiblio

One of my favorite blogs is Technobiblio. Here's a great IM-related post from Chris:

April 17, 2005

IM Interactions

I had a sit down last week with a librarian working closely on an IM Reference project. I asked what kind of IM interactions they get at their library. She had this list, which may be similar to what other libraries have encountered as they begin projects like this.

* Kids seeing if someone is actually "there"

* A few questions of the "Are you hot?" variety

* A lot of informational questions about the library: hours, etc

* Some gosh darn spiffy* reference questions

I think it's important for training to understand we may get a few questions like the first couple. It does not mean that all IM is all about "What are you wearing?" but that we can handle those as well:

Response: "A sensible shirt and trousers, but the more important question is , can I help you with a question about the library today?"

TTW's IM Category

Sherri's VR Woes


Sherri's IM Survey

Via an email from Stephen Abram: (Thanks!)

Now it's still very early, and the survey has only been up for 2 days (20 responses so far), but I'm noticing a peculiar trend in the responses: 90% of respondents currently use IM, and 90% have never used the UNLV Chat Reference service. The next question asks "if the service were offered, would you use Instant Messaging to ask a librarian for research help?" Again, 90% responded 'yes.'

This is good stuff to ponder. Sherri does mention the VR service has not been promoted too much, which happens a lot. But her point speaks volumes: maybe IM is better because it supports " the 'embedded' service concept: provide help for people where and when they use it most." Yup... I'd be looking very closely at the ROI of that VR service...

"IM is looking better and better all the time."

April 15, 2005

Updated IM Training Materials

IMAOLScreenName.ppt: A Handout for getting ScreenNames

April 13, 2005

Training IM: A Ready To Go Module

Training IM

Last week I did some IM Training for some new and seasoned staff who will be working at SJCPL Service areas that use IM (Reference and AV) to answer questions. It was a good exercise and now I see more clearly how to set up this type of training. I wanted them to get screenames first, then chat with each other and then tackle some exercises. I did all the things a good trainer should do: checked my equipment, tested the computers and preppeed the room and handouts.

What I didn't count on was having issue with logging in to iChat (we were on Macs, thank you very much) with a new screename. I tested it on a random training room computer and it worked for me. In the class - it didn't. No one could log in.

How I will do it differently: Next time, I want all 20 macs pre-configured with iChat and Fire (a multi client chat app for OS X) and each to have a pre-configured screen name: SJCPLTrain1, SJCPLTrain2, SJCPLTrain3, etc.

That way, we don't spend the time signing up and logging in. I want to save that for other training times, maybe as Advanced IM. Along with the IM Reference initiative here, we have a thriving community of IMing staff who communicate and work better because of this software. It does my heart good, I said to my Assistant Director this afternoon, to meet with our Staff Development Librarian and hear her plans to mount an IM directory on the intranet and encourage staff to IM her.

Anyway, here are my training documents. Maybe some of you can use them.

PPT file used as a handout for IM Training. CUSTOMIZE to your library and your IM Client

Trainer's Outline & Objectives

Sample questions. Give to half of your students

Sample questions. Give to other half of your students

UPDATE: IMAOLScreenName.ppt: A Handout for getting ScreeNames

Another IMing Library (A Shifted Library! Right, Jenny?)

From colleague and workshop participant Stephen Boggs, who is director of New Carlisle Public Library in New Carlisle, IN (at the far west reaches of my county), we get a report of what he's doing at his library since the "Reinventing Libraries Workshop" This rocks my world.

So far I have set-up three additional IM accounts for the library. Information about or screen names is posted on our main web page @

The accounts were fairly easy to establish, though I have switched to a program called PSI to handle all three accounts instead of managing three different IM programs at once. I'm hoping that kids/adults will see that we are trying to be as approchable as possible, especially since it simply takes just a few clicks to ask a question. I am also going to try to have the staff sign up for IM accounts for quickie questions and general communication instead of using the intercom or waiting for an e-mail reply. It's easy to do, but people don't care to "have their cheese moved," so I need to remember to be patient and supportive when introducing things like this to the staff.

I have also started a blog. It is located at The cool thing about it is that I can just use my normal e-mail to post to it. Some ask why do both a blog and a website? Simple. They are two different things. The blog is strictly a list and nothing more, whereas the website is much more structured. I must admit that as I was browsing some library related blogs I was quite put off by what the ALA President had to say about bloggers in general.

Rock On Stephen! I hope the internal IM initiative goes well. Two key words for introducing staff to new technologies: patient and supportive. Some staff will take to it like ducks to the pond, some staff will fight anything that's new, and some staff fall in between. I'm pondering buy-in a lot these days... it's important for success in libraries for sure!

Multiple Online Personalities at Lansing PL

Kelli Staley writes about the IM experience at Lansing PL, and shares some cool stuff about how it all works:

How does our staff like this setup?
They like the the separate names. The Teen Dept. librarian said she gets a lot of young adult reader's advisory inquiries which our Reference desk would be unable to answer. Her IM traffic seems to pick up after she booktalks at the high school. Students will remember parts of what she said, and then inquire about the title.

It also helps to get an idea of the age of the patron right off the bat. Adult Reference said they do get some inquiries that are obviously a middle school or perhaps high school student but most of the reference materials they use for class projects are housed in the adult collection anyway, and IMs are usually a follow-up to a class visit to the library.

I reserved a name for adult readers advisory (our 4th public desk), but as of yet I haven't been able to get them excited enough to try it!

I love that Booktalks increase IM questions. That type of promotion will build up the service.

I'm sad though that the Adult Reader's Advisory folks aren't excited about IM. What might get them into having IM at their desk? Stats might bore them. A mandate from admin would turn them off. Hmm..could some anecdotal evidence -- stories if you will -- get them to buy in? (This isn't new -- I'm channeling Durrance and Abram here folks!)

We recently had an IM:

[17:46] Patron: Hello
[17:46] Patron: Is anyone here?
[17:47] AskSJCPL: Hi. May we help you?
[17:47] Patron: Are you a robot?
[17:48] AskSJCPL: We are live librarians.

No, not that one, but how about this:

[11:27] IM User: Hello I am a student from (a local college) and i have a question for you about one of your books
[11:28] AskSJCPL: sure, go ahead.
[11:28] IM User: I had looked through a book that my friend had taken out from your library titled (cool book by a cool author)
[11:28] IM User: I would like to use one of his ideas for a project but I do not have the bibliographic information
[11:29] IM User: could you by any chance get that for me, I do not have time to come to the library myself
[11:30] AskSJCPL: Okay. What sort of info do you need?
[11:31] AskSJCPL: Author, date of publication, publisher?
[11:32] AskSJCPL: (Bib info given)
[11:32] AskSJCPL: it's 64 pages long
[11:34] AskSJCPL: are you still there?
[11:34] IM User: yes
[11:34] IM User: that is perfect
[11:35] IM User: thanks you very much
[11:35] AskSJCPL: you're welcome, have a nice day!
[11:35] IM User: thanks u too!!

I might make the point that by serving the patron's need at their point of need via the method that was the best for them at the time, the library is providing some darn good service. I'm curious, readers, what other IM stories might we share? Comment here if you'd like.

Kelli also made a nice comment in response to Jenny's comment: "I agree with Jenny...the catalog should be the main source for this info, but we all know that many of our patrons are intimidated by the catalog or lack the searching techniques to find what they want. Just as our patrons learn our catalog interfaces, an upgrade can make them feel as if they're at square one again.
If the IM inquiry about a film, cd or audiobook is what it's going to take to pull them back into the library (especially if they've been gone a while) then we stand a chance at promoting all the other wonderful services & programs they are missing out on! It's all about getting those independent tech saavy patrons back in the door so we can show them it's NOT all on the internet!"

I hear you and I agree!

IM Online Status! (Presence Rules)

Hey - now you can tell if the SJCPL IM Reference service is online or not! We were inspired by Lansing!

Thanks Maire!

April 11, 2005

SJCPL IM Reference Expands to Audio Visual


This is in the works for the library's Sights & Sounds department! Direct IM capability to find out if music, movies or audiobooks are available. I'll be training a bit with the staff before they go live.

I was tickled to see we are on the right track when I saw Jenny's post about Lansing Public Library and their multiple screen names. "Kelli wrote, Our library is on 2 levels, so we have separate screen names for different age groups. AskLPLAdult, AskLPLTeen, AskLPLYouth(we're on Yahoo & AOL). She went on to note that a few weeks ago, they received IMs from students in Florida and Ohio. Those two requests are from students who couldnt IM their local library. Can your students IM yours?"

Can your patrons IM your service desks? Can your librarians IM each other across the boundaries of distance (Floors? Miles?)?

Here's the promo bookmark prototype courtesy of SJCPLSkagirlie!

April 04, 2005

IM Article at Library Journal

Schmidt & Stephens 2005:

March 31, 2005

Playing with Jybe

SJCPLskagirlie is playing with Jybe with one of our Nextgen libs.

Neat stuff. Think of the learning opportunities for a librarian, a user and a learner to co-browse a few sites.

March 29, 2005

IM solving VR Woes

Good stuff here:

So here are some of the pros and cons (for our particular situation), and my general questions . . .

it's saves several thousands of dollars a year it's free!
it works bonus!
no messy setup or clunky interfaces; uses a medium that many/most students are already familiar with
ability to create customized 'queues' per subject or librarian for things like subject pages (simply create an appropriate and different screen name for that purpose), which with VR software can cost around $3000 per librarian
it's 'disposable': one thing that really bothers me about our current system is that all questions and transcripts are kept for three months, and in terms of privacy issues, we have no control over that

much more challenging to keep statistics
lose the ability to refer and track email questions (a component of our VR software) among numerous subject librarians

I think the stats issue could be handled without too much muss and fuss for most libraries. A database could be set up on the IM computer and each questions could be entered and cataegorized: reference, informational, etc. Then you'd have some good stats to pull out.

March 25, 2005

Another Nail in the VR Coffin?


Even as I post this, David King, Chad and Blake and I are co-browsing the Web! We all downloaded and installed JYBE and joined the same session. Suddenly, we were watching as David took us around the KCPL site! There is a built in chat room at the bottom of the page! We were chatting within the browser! WOWZA! Thanks to the fellow who posed the question to Aaron and I at our CIL IM presentation: "Have you tried Jybe?" And thanks to Chris Jowaisis who told me about it when it launched in January.

Think of the implications for virtual reference without bloated software!


We were able to surf together. I loaded up Indiana's access to EBSCOHOST and we searched together, found an article and downloaded. Everyone got a copy!

Blake said: "I never want to browse alone again."

My mind reels....

March 04, 2005

Libraries and Technology

No one should have to deal with a situation like this - folks, it's 2005 -- there are are tools we can use to communicate, to learn, to exchange information, to improve workflow...

Michael - I have information to share - but please do not use my name or identify my organization. My organization absolutely does not allow IM. In fact - I needed it for a training class and had to petition my boss, the head of IT, and others for permission. I got permission to use it for a specific amount of time - the duration of the class. Then it was immediately removed. That's my story.

This was a response to an email request Karen sent out for me to some mailing lists. My tummy hurts.

March 03, 2005

Technogeekery II: IM

February 11, 2005

IM Bookmark

Beatrice comments:

I'm a brand new librarian in a new job and getting giddy just reading this. I love the idea of the IM bookmark as a promotion. May we "borrow" this idea? My library is currently offering e/m and virtual ref, but virtual ref is sporadically active at best. I'm going to be talking to my colleagues today about trying chat reference (probably using Trillian); on any given day that I walk around the library I see students using databases, the web and one or two IM applications all at once. I'm hoping that we'll even reach those working from their dorm rooms.

This makes my heart warm. Beatrice - please borrow away! That's one of the beautiful things about all this library coolness around ... we borrow, change, grab inspiration and downright share all the time. Go for it! That goes for anyone that might be IMing and need some inspiration!

February 03, 2005

Promoting IM Reference Services at SJCPL

This weekend at Science Alive! we'll be distributing a bookmark promoting out IM Reference service..and then the librarians will be visiting schools, etc to give them out. I am interested to see if the stats jump!

Want to see the full bookmark - download it here (883k)

February 01, 2005

SJCPL IM Stats (Updated)

Maire informs me that we have had 75 Instant Message reference transactions here at SJCPL fomr September 2004 to January 2005 -- no too shabby considering we have not publicized the ASK SJCPL Service at all -- no cards, no bookmarks, etc... just this page.

For a detailed examination, click here:

January 27, 2005

Presence via the OS & iChat


On my Macs, I use iChat to IM. I just realized when I send IM windows to the dock (the program launcher in Mac Os X), they look like the above. That, I believe, is an example of presence: the virtual person... available and engaged.

Thanks Maire for fixing the image!

January 06, 2005

I just SKYPED with Steven Cohen

It was like we were talking across my desk! How cool.

Folks...I'm home watching it snow..if anyone wants to test Skype, I'll be logged in!


December 12, 2004

Presence - CJ @ Technobiblio

Thanks CJ!

I'm fascinated by the direction IM, e-mail and blogging is going... social networks, interaction, collaboration... sweetness.

November 22, 2004

Aaron's Stats from LJ!


LJ, Nov 15, 2004

Let's look at a simple ROI:

400 questions divided by 7 months is an average of 57 questions per month for virtually no huge cost -- just the staff time whatever the cost may be. For this type of outreach and what might be called "good buzz" (ala Jenny), that's priceless!

November 16, 2004

For David King


November 09, 2004


After working at a branch yesterday for a Sunday shift I stopped to get gas at the grocery store/gas station/Starbucks complex up north of town. As I was pumping the petrol, my phone signaled I had a text:

"I see you getting gas..."

It was like a movie! I suddenly felt like the whole world was watching me and I hadn't known.

"Who is this?" I replied.

(Here's where every stalker thriller I've ever seen played out in my head..)

Turns out, it was my colleague Maire from SJCPL who does our Web Development. She was getting coffee and thought she'd text me to say hi...

November 01, 2004

IM Article at Red Herring

I can't remember where I got this!! But I file it here...,%20therefore,%20IM

September 09, 2004

Video Chat... In my Robe


Will the next big wave of video chat for online collaboration result in folks like me paying more attention to their dress when connected? Here I am after a long soak, in my robe and chatting with Bob and Jude who were still at work at IUSB!

August 17, 2004

Loads of IM info... Thanks Technobiblio!

"Frequent IM users, on the other hand, tended to use IM more as a tool for collaboration, with discussions covering a broad range of topics via many fast-paced interactions—each with many short turns in the conversation, much threading, and a predisposition towards multitasking. "

Oh yeah! Aaron and I have planned a number of things...and Steven and I have set up some collaborative stuff as well.

CJ never ceases to amaze me with the quality of his posts. Take a look at this about IM and the great articles he links to.

July 24, 2004

iChat Meeting with Aaron

Aaron and I are writing and article AND presenting at Internet Librarian -- so yeaterday we met for almost an hour via iChat on our Macs! Face to face and with audio...nice!


May 19, 2004

Instant Messaging at the Library: Re-Evaluating IM in your Library

The more I read (Abram and Luther in LJ this month!), the more I ponder, and the more I IM with colleagues and SJCPL staff, I realize we need to get serious about this form of communication.

I saw this recently in a library and it made me sad:

I totally understand restricting open chat rooms...but not IM. Just sayin!

May 17, 2004

I'm over it - New e-mail

I have received over 500 spam messages this weekend. So I turned off the old address here... mstephens (at)!

New address:

mstephens7 (at sign) tametheweb (dot) com

mstephens7 (at sign) mac (dot) com still works as well!

April 28, 2004

That Instant Messaging is so HOT right now

Jenny points to this...while Aaron and Chris are blogging about it as well.

Here's what I've gathered in the year or so I've been connected:

IM with colleagues works! I have planned conference presentations with some good library folks, cried on a dear colleague's virtual shoulder when things seemed opretty dark, discussed my upcoming dive back into academia with numerous IM library pals, scheduled training and meetings with my SJCPL colleagues -- all VIA IM!

IM is great for a quick shout out -- better than e-mail really... "Hey did you see Jenny's post about THIS?" will always get me clicking to see what cool thing is coming up next.

Libraries can use IM as a means of virtual reference. Small investment..big results. There are libraries that do this! Aaron is! I'm changing the article I'm working on to highlight this stuff instead of Virtual reference -- which, according too many good folks, is DEAD or should be!

And in general, it's darn cool too be connected this way and hear from friends and family from all over the US in this "in the moment" way.

I do agree libraries and businesses will have to develop an IM policy to insure consistency of communication and some protocols. Note, I said libraries will have too... because I believe libraries should take this new HOT thing VERY seriously!


April 16, 2004

Buddy Lists & Thommy

Check out Aaron's post at WP about IM and some young ladies at his library. I'm watching his IM the Library service closely... intrigued...

And, do older online folks IM? Technobiblio's post about the Silver Tsunami leads me to believe they probably do. IMing grandkids across the country. And what about the folks that have bought Web cams for grandma or grandma so they can see the kids?

April 13, 2004

Attention Fiddling Librarian

Caught your IMs after you had logged off. Watch for me and let's discuss!